One of the hardest things in life is to relieve someone of their services or to put in millennial language, to fire them. When it comes to this particular situation, the common misconception is that no one likes to be on the receiving end. But, truth be spoken, no one likes to be on the giving end of things as well. Think about it? Who likes to tell someone that the place where they’ve been coming for days, months or years is no longer accessible to them, all of a sudden. We experience this difficulty because we want to be seen as good by others and telling someone that they are fired will not get us such a response.
But have we ever asked ourselves, “What it is to be good?”
The usual understanding of good is making others happy, being warm and sensitive to their needs. This idea of good has been forced into our minds right from the start, with the bad cartoon becoming good after learning how to be nice and sweet to those around it.
And firing someone is the exact opposite of such behaviour. We know we will cause the other person huge distress, make them feel humiliated and they might end up telling us that we do not care about them one bit. We become the demons and they become the sad victim.
But have we ever considered broadening our understanding of this goodness? Well, some of us have. There’s another kind of goodness that does not get as much attention – goodness-as-excellence. When a participant is able to win a marathon, we do not see her as being cruel to others or showing others down. Rather we focus on how she was able to perform good in terms of her skills.
So when we fire someone, we are not doing so because we wish to be cruel to them or hurt them but because they are not good at their job. We are looking not at their goodness-as-niceness but at their goodness-as-excellence. We are just saying that one slice of the pizza (their work) does not taste nice but this does not mean that the entire pizza may be equally untasty. It also does not mean that the slice gets to define the entire pizza.
As a boss, you will often find yourself conflicted between choosing one of the two kinds of goodness. But remember that at the end of your day, your job is a mix of both a candy shop and a doctor’s clinic. And to make sure the company prospers, you will have to sometimes be more of a doctor than a candyman.
As a boss, you are following a lonely but genuine path towards a different kind of goodness, a goodness where sometimes you end providing your employee with a promotion and sometimes you end up terminating their services. There are two sides to this coin and it’s time we acknowledged it, folks.